#BringBackOurGirls. This slogan has been trending since April, when the Islamic Jihadist terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 girls from their school in Borno State, Nigeria. Countless celebrities around the world – including U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama – have lent their voices to the social media campaign. But three months later, “our girls” have not been brought back. Although reports say approximately 50 have managed to escape, 276 girls are still missing.
On December 15th, 2013, violence broke out in the young nation of South Sudan. What began with accusations from President Salva Kiir of an attempted coup d’état by former Vice President Riek Machar has since enflamed underlying ethnic tensions and sparked a much larger conflict in which more than 10,000 people have died.
“There was war in my home. The Mai Mai came to our village and burned everything there. I came here with my wife and eight children two months ago with nothing but the clothes on our backs. I came to this village to try to get some food.” These are the words of Emmanuel, an internally displaced man in northern Katanga Province. “Look,” he said, pointing to a makeshift house of branches and leaves. “We have no shelter, and no food.”
Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that revises the mandate for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The Mission will now focus on four key tasks: protection of civilians; monitoring and investigating human rights; creating the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance; and supporting the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement.
Since fighting broke out in South Sudan last December between government troops, who support President Salva Kiir, and forces loyal to the former Vice-President, Riek Machar, more than a million people have been forced from their homes. The UN estimates that a staggering $1.8 billion is needed to fund the response to the crisis through 2014, of which only 30% had been secured by mid-May.
Today, I spent the afternoon with a group of Syrian refugee women living here in Cairo. Some of them were considered vulnerable by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and were able to get small amounts of aid for food and rent. Many had children who dropped out of school in Egypt in order to provide for their families. Most had husbands in Syria whom they worried about constantly. All were hoping to go somewhere besides Egypt, but were losing faith that it could really happen.
Every morning, Estralia wakes up in an unfamiliar environment, feeling unsure of where she is and where her home has gone. After a moment, all the terrible memories of Typhoon Haiyan come flooding back to her and she remembers the painful truth: everything has washed away.
The government of Afghanistan is back in the news these days - and for all the wrong reasons. Recent actions by President Hamid Karzai and his supporters are putting the country's future at risk, and none stand to lose more than Afghan women.
Afghan women have been disproportionately affected by years of insecurity, poverty, and displacement. Their aspirations have been undermined by strong local opposition to achieving their rights and exercising leadership.